I recently attended the first show of Them Clones’ promo tour for the launch of their debut CD. The band have a bunch of great songs that they’ve been massaging carefully for a very long time. The result is a polished set of tracks and a really strong and tight live show. Everything went great at the Hard Rock, Pune and I have a feeling the show would have continued for at least another hour if it wasn’t for the ridiculous 11pm closing time imposed by the Maharashtra government.
After the show was wrapped I overheard a guy complaining to the bartender. Let me break it down for you. This guy is the quintessential (read cliché) Indian rocker, complete with a goatee, long hair, Sepultura t-shirt, dirty jeans, the works. His rant is probably painfully familiar to the band members (and managers) of any Indian rock band.
It went something like this (I’m paraphrasing because I was several beers in at this point): “What was that shit, man? How can I get into the music when I don’t know any of the songs? When they play big places like this they should only play covers”. That statement right there encapsulates everything that is wrong with your average Indian “Rock Fan”.
Our asshat at the bar there showed up for a free show, promoting an album and expected to hear covers. He has no respect for artists trying to create instead of regurgitate. He has no feeling of pride or ownership for local talent. He has no concept of the fundamental building blocks of good rock and roll: A band cannot survive, let alone grow, without its fans (even if it’s your 2 friends from school).
In any part of the world where great rock music happens it begins with the local fans: The small core audience that cheers, adores and provides sexual favors and drugs to the aspiring rock Gods. That entire culture is missing completely in the Indian rock scene from what I can tell. Until that happens bands will become great despite being from India rather than because they’re from India.